The big picture: Rapidly improving camera systems in smartphones have snatched a fair chunk of the market from the digital camera industry. Nikon is now looking to minimize these losses by discontinuing its authorized third-party repair program and will be handling all official and under warranty repairs from early next year.

Professional and aspiring photographers using Nikon cameras should probably take extra care of their equipment going forwards as the company has decided to end its authorized repair program for over a dozen independent shops in the US.

iFixit reports that Nikon USA has decided not to renew its agreement with nearly 15 Authorized Repair Station members in the country after March 31, 2020. This means that all Nikon users looking to fix their camera(s) with official parts or under warranty will need to send it to Nikon's official repairing facilities in either Melville, New York, or Los Angeles, California.

The main reason behind this move is the declining digital camera business where consumers are increasingly shifting to smartphones for their photography and videography needs. "The climate in which we do business has evolved, and Nikon Inc. must do the same," said the company in its letter to the repair shops, requiring it to "change the manner in which we make product service available to our end user customers."

Taking control over official repairs will enable Nikon to bring in more business, which would otherwise have gone to its authorized third-party repair partners.

Understandably, independent repair shops are worried about this development and fear that losing authorized status as well as access to official Nikon parts would severely damage their business as customers will no longer be able to benefit from their proximity and quick repair times.

"This is very big, and we have no idea what’s coming next," said Cliff Hanks, parts manager of Kurt's Camera Repair, a family-owned business in San Deigo, California. "We need more information before March 31. We can make contingency plans, start stocking up on stuff, but when will we know for sure?" he added. Hanks currently receives nearly all camera parts from Nikon's Los Angeles facility and also provides a customer discount on repairs that he mails to Nikon.

"My options now are China, used parts from eBay, and whatever I can salvage," he says. "If I have to tell a customer it’s a couple weeks just to get the part, and I can’t offer a discount on the repair … I don’t know why they wouldn’t go to Nikon directly."

These customers would likely have to face longer repair times as well since Nikon's two official facilities would be managing a bulk of repair orders from March next year.